The city of Manitou Springs has released its 2022 annual report, and the 13-page document provides an enlightening look at local government’s inner workings. This is the third year the city has issued such a report card.
Just as he did for the 2020 and 2021 reports, Manitou Springs Mayor John Graham kicks it off by encouraging the community to play its part in maintaining the city’s good quality of life.
Finance leads the report. The city’s total expenditures added up to approximately $25.4 million in 2022, about $23 million in 2021 and approximately $18 million in 2020. (Information about the 2023 budget is at bit.ly/MS2023Budget.)
After 2022’s cautious spending (Manitou was waiting to see if Colorado Springs voters would approve recreational marijuana) will the city be able to loosen its belt in 2023?
“Last year, we took very deliberate steps to harden the budget against the possible loss of the marijuana tax,” Graham says. “We have a very long wish list.”
City Council will convene for a day-long work session Feb. 11 to consider allocations to projects.
“With the lessened worries about revenue, this will still be challenging,” Graham says, “but I hope we can make tangible progress.”
Some of the report’s more eye-opening content comes from Manitou Springs Police Department statistics. MSPD made 838 arrests last year, compared with 574 in 2021 and just 273 in 2020.
Chief Bill Otto doesn’t want to make assumptions based on those numbers.
“It would be unfair to state that this resembles an increase in crime, as our police department has been fully staffed [in 2022] for the first time in many years,” Otto says. “Additionally, during COVID-19, policing was more reactive than proactive.”
We have a very long wish list. — John Graham
In 2022, MSPD received 10,763 calls for service, compared with 11,826 in 2021 and 7,656 in 2020. Officers spent 587 hours walking downtown last year, 534 in 2021 and 536 in 2020.
The 2021 and 2022 reports include the percentage of MSPD officers who have taken crisis intervention training. That’s intended to polish their skills at responding more broadly and professionally and, often, more compassionately to people’s needs, Graham wrote in his introduction.
In 2022, 75 percent of MSPD personnel — 12 out of 16 — had that training, Otto says. In 2021, it was 77 percent; it wasn’t noted in the 2020 report.
“Given that turnover or any number of things can get in the way, it is our goal to have 100 percent compliance with crisis intervention training by the end of the year,” Otto says.
Looking at Manitou Springs Fire Department statistics, paid and volunteer firefighters responded to 1,073 calls for service and extinguished 22 fires last year. Four of those were structure fires, Chief John Forsett says.
The department’s response time increased slightly, from 5 minutes, 27 seconds in 2021 to 5:47 in 2022. Forsett isn’t concerned, though. He says it’s normal to have small year-to-year fluctuations due to factors including equipment changes, the distance driven, procedural changes and the time firefighters spend putting on personal protective equipment.
Monitoring and comparing response times helps identify changes and trends that should be addressed, Forsett says. Fire department personnel completed a combined 4,025 hours of training in 2022; 6,003 in 2021; and 3,566 in 2020.
In 2022, 274 fire hydrants were flushed, tested and maintained, compared with 144 in 2021 and 173 in 2020.
MSFD’s long-awaited training facility, which is included in the report’s list of ongoing projects, is slowly taking shape in the foothills northwest of the city.
“We are currently in the foundation construction phase and are finding it difficult to prepare the earth for form-setting, due to frozen ground preventing even mechanical efforts,” Forsett says.
“As soon as the ground warms up enough to allow completion of the excavation, the constructor will begin foundation work, which should take approximately four weeks.”
After the foundation is completed, building construction is expected to take about three weeks, he says. Find more information at tinyurl.com/MSfiretraining.
Forsett also reports that the city’s new ambulance and paramedic team will rev up on Feb. 12.
Another ongoing project covered in the report: the Hiawatha Gardens building. Dole Grebenik, city engineer and interim Public Works superintendent, says work was paused while the city negotiated the purchase of the Chase Bank building, 484 Manitou Ave., next to the historic structure.
“With the acquisition almost complete, the project team has resumed efforts on developing design details, all while factoring in the new site and its new opportunities,” Grebenik says.
The full report is on the city website at tinyurl.com/p5w5aj4h.
Next week: A look at how Manitou Arts, Culture and Heritage funding impacted the community.